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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Turkey presses U.S., Iraq on Kurds

ISTANBUL, Turkey, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Turkey has signaled that military operations in northern Iraq against Kurdish guerrillas remain an option if terror attacks by PKK rebels continue.

Government spokesman Cemil Cicek, quoted Wednesday in the newspaper Zaman, said "Turkey has the right to exercise its rights" of self-defense based on international law, and would pursue the struggle against Kurdish terrorism at any cost.

"The entire world should be aware that we will carefully watch for offers of support and a show of sincerity from our allies, which is our right," he said. "The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is a terrorist organization and every country has the authority and the right to fight against terrorism."

The PKK has waged a decades-old separatist struggle against Ankara. Last month, a dozen Turkish soldiers were killed in the country's trouble southeastern region in attacks blamed on the PKK.

Turkey accuses the PKK of using Kurdish dominated northern Iraq as a safe haven for guerrillas and springboard for cross-border attacks.

"We want the Iraqi government and our ally the United States to end the conflicts in accordance with international law," Cicek said.

"We have conveyed our thoughts to our alliances many times. However, Iraq has a new government and new responsibilities to fulfill within the counter-terrorism program. We expect Iraq to take the necessary precautions to prevent possible attacks against Turkey, and the United States to help Iraq in this sense."

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